Tom Griffen is originally from California and now resides in Carrboro, NC. He’s visited 40 US states and lived in 8, and his international travels have taken him to 22 different countries. He’s pitched fish on Alaskan docks, developed anatomy curriculum for a shoe store franchise, worked as a high school teacher, a roofer, and a warehouse manager, among numerous other positions. Though Tom’s professional resume makes him seem transient, in fact, he’s just a sucker for anything that’s new and exciting. These myriad experiences have given him the ability to mingle with nearly anyone.
As a child, Art was a secret friend with whom Tom met at his easel in the attic, filling up sketch pads with cartooned word-searches and pencil drawings while also practicing his autograph. At some point this friend disappeared and didn’t turn up again until 2002 when Tom was living and working at a winery. One evening while waiting for his clothes to dry at the laundromat, Tom ran into Art browsing at the local hardware store. His otherwise inexplicable purchase of a few gallons of erroneously mixed paint led to a few months of happy dabbling.
A few years later, Art visited again during therapy and decades-worth of emotion exploded on to canvas. These pieces, along with his work from the winery, formed the collection for Tom’s first official show in Santa Cruz in 2010. Since then he’s regularly displayed his work in Carrboro and is proud to say that one of his pieces hangs near an original Dali in the living room of one of his generous buyers.
In 2011, Tom finally recognized himself as an artist. Art, the elusive friend, became incorporated into Tom’s life such that he quit his job and dedicated himself to his creative work. And though it took some practice, now when you ask Tom what he does for a living, there’s at least a 50% chance that he’ll tell you, “I’m an artist.”